Curiosity Front Hazcam Left B image taken on Sol 1967, February 17, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Closing out Sol 1967 duties, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has accomplished several newsworthy tasks.

“We got lots of good news this morning,” reports Ken Herkenhoff, a planetary geologist at the USGS in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Firstly, the rover’s Dust Removal Tool brushed off a potential drill target successfully. Also done, Herkenhoff adds, was the analysis by the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Instrument Suite of the Ogunquit Beach sample, “and the rover is healthy and ready for more!”

Potential drilling site.
Curiosity Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) acquired this photo on Sol 1966, February 16, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Testing new drilling technique

Curiosity’s weekend plan is focused on dumping the last of the Ogunquit Beach sand out of the robot’s Collection and Handling for Interior Martian Rock Analysis (CHIMRA) device. That is necessary before researchers can test the new feed-extended drilling technique.

Brush off on Mars. Curiosity Mastcam Right photo taken on Sol 1966, February 16, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

But first, on Sol 1968, Navcam will perform a sky survey and search for clouds, as this is the cloudy season on Mars, Herkenhoff notes. Then the rover’s Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) and Right Mastcam will observe bedrock targets “Smoo Cave” and “St. Andrews” to sample the nearby chemical diversity.

Sieved, un-sieved samples

Sol 1969 will be a busy day for Curiosity, starting with more ChemCam and Right Mastcam bedrock observations, this time of “Yesnaby” and “Dingwall.”

Curiosity ChemCam Remote Micro-Imager photo acquired on Sol 1965, February 15, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL

On the plan, the rover’s robotic arm will get to work, taking Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) images of the locations where the samples will be dumped, followed by dumping of sieved and un-sieved samples in those two locations, Herkenhoff explains.

CHIMRA will be cleaned out, with MAHLI then tasked to take images of each dump pile from 25 and 5 centimeters above them.

Finally, the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) will be placed over the pile of sieved material for an overnight integration.

Dump piles

The next morning, on Sol 1970, APXS will be retracted so that MAHLI can take another image of sieved material, to see whether and where APXS touched it.

Following this task, the rover’s arm will be moved out of the way for Mastcam and ChemCam passive spectral observations of the dump piles, and taking ChemCam Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) measurements (with Right Mastcam documentation) of red clasts named “Fladda.”

Curiosity Mastcam Right image acquired on Sol 1965. February 15, 2018.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Holiday weekend

Just after sunrise on Sol 1971, Mastcam and Navcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere, and Navcam will search for clouds and perform another sky survey.

“This plan will get Curiosity through the holiday weekend, and tactical planning will resume Tuesday morning,” Herkenhoff concludes.

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